December 10, 2016

Statement by Commissioner Verheugen on Cyprus’ Accession to the E.U.

The European Commission’s accession report released on November 13, has urged the Turkish Cypriots to reach a settlement to end the island’s division, allowing them to reap the benefits from eventual Cypriot membership to the European Union.

During a press conference given after the release of the report, the EU Commissioner for Enlargement, Gunter Verheugen stated that, “Accession to the EU prior to a solution of the Cyprus problem, does not in any way mean de jure recognition of the partition of the island”. Commissioner Verheugen also stressed that in the eyes of the EU and according to international law, the Republic of Cyprus represents the whole island, therefore accession of Cyprus to the EU will legally signify accession of the whole island.

With regard to recent efforts to solve the Cyprus problem, Verheugen stated that there have been no demonstrations of a positive approach from the Turkish Cypriot side. He added that the EU is doing everything in its power to promote a solution to the Cyprus problem, however the Turkish-Cypriot leader Mr. Denktash is not making any noteworthy moves in that direction.

Commissioner Verheugen also noted that the position of the Turkish-Cypriot community in regards to the matter of Cyprus’ accession to the EU, is entirely different from that of Mr. Denktash. He added that the majority of Turkish-Cypriots desire accession to the EU and that would only be possible through a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Responding to Turkish threats made by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit on November 4 that Turkey might annex the breakaway Turkish-occupied areas of Cyprus, if Cyprus enters the EU, Verheugen warned that such an action “would put a serious strain on relations between the European Union and Turkey, and I don’t see how we could resolve that easily.”

In conclusion, Commissioner Verheugen underlined that both the EU and the Secretary General’s efforts to bring Mr. Denktash to the negotiating table in order to promote a solution of the Cyprus problem had failed. The European Commission states in its annual report on enlargement, “it would be an inspiration for Europe as a whole, and for the world at large, if the whole of Cyprus was able to enter the European Union together on the basis of a settlement taking into account the interests and concerns of the respective parties”, it added that “if, however, a settlement has not been reached by the completion of the accession negotiations, the Council will take its decision on accession, without this being a pre-condition, in accordance with the Helsinki European Council conclusions.”